Dentsu names Neil Gissler global operating chief to drive transformation agenda

The COO will focus on the network's four major areas of creative, media, CRM and brand.

Newly promoted global COO Neil Gissler
Newly promoted global COO Neil Gissler

Neil Gissler, who joined Dentsu Aegis Network through its Merkle acquisition in 2016, has been promoted to the newly created role of global COO.

Gissler will lead the charge on implementing DAN’s transformation agenda, which includes driving sustainable business growth and providing clients with more impactful value propositions and solutions. 

Gissler, who originally became part of DAN as COO of Merkle and subsequently as COO of DAN Americas, is joining the network’s global executive team. He is reporting to Toshi Yamamota, acting executive chairman and CEO, while executive chairman Tim Andree makes a phased return to work following a health-related leave of absence.

As part of his remit to help DAN evolve operationally, Gissler said he will work with the senior leadership of the company’s major enterprises to better standardize their services across the four major dimensions of creative, CRM, media and brand. 

He told Campaign U.S. that he wants to "better define the role of each part of the organization" so the company can work more collaboratively with clients. 

DAN’s three lines of business are creative, which is managed by CEO Jean Lin; CRM, led by CEO David Williams; and media, spearheaded by CEO Peter Huijboom. All three executives sit on the DAN executive team, alongside Gissler.

The "brand" dimension refers to the individual agencies aligned with one of the lines of business, such as Carat sitting within media and Merkle within CRM. 

Gissler said that bringing those brands together in a "more strategic and integrated way" will not only bring better services to clients, it will help DAN be more effective and efficient internally. 

Last week, DAN announced the promotion of Craig Dempster from president of Merkle Americas to global CEO, effective June 1. The appointment followed DAN’s accelerated buyout of Merkle the week prior. Merkle, which has nearly doubled its revenue since 2016,  reported a 21.2% increase in revenue in 2019.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gissler said DAN’s communities, employees and clients are the network’s primary focus. 

"The needs of many advertisers have changed quite dramatically. You see some companies pivoting and enhancing either their image or brand messaging, so there are opportunities there. At the same time, for industries highly affected by COVID-19, there’s been a level of reduction on outbound media spend, but they’re holding strength in CRM relationships," he said, adding that DAN's clients have been tapping into Merkle to build more cost-efficient solutions that better target individuals with underlying data. 

Gissler, who spent 28 years in the tech and IT space at Accenture before joining the world of advertising four years ago, said he’s excited about the "breadth and depth of capabilities across DAN." 

He said he’s looking forward to "fulfilling a new vision and value proposition in this industry" alongside the executive team, including newly minted DAN Global CEO Wendy Clark.

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